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Aug 24, 2022

Avoid the hidden costs of maize silage waste

Aug 24, 2022

The financial cost of maize silage waste, both in the clamp and in the ration, can easily run into thousands of pounds. With feed prices so high and less forage likely to be available this year, there’s no room for these staggering losses.   

The key message is to not cut corners with clamp management at any stage and maintain close attention to detail as, once maize starts spoiling, it loses a lot of its energy value quite rapidly.  

Cumulative dry matter losses from maize silage between clamp filling and feeding can be significant, with the Maize Growers Association providing typical figures in October 2020, shown in table 1.

Table 1 Maize silage dry matter losses (MGA, Oct 2020)

Farmers can reduce the fermentation, feed-out and peripheral aerobic losses by 10% by using a combination of good management principles and a Magniva Platinum forage inoculant designed for maize. 

Taking an example where 1,000 tonnes of 30% DM maize silage is required, we can calculate the potential costs. If the farmer did not treat their silage with an inoculant, they would stand to potentially lose 100 tonnes of silage which would have cost £39/tonne to grow, making the silage that is left to feed £3,900 more expensive.  

If the 100 tonne shortfall then had to be made up by buying in maize silage, it would cost the farm a total of £6,500, assuming a maize silage purchase price of £65/tonne fresh, excluding delivery, for autumn 2022 (our own forecasted price).  

Taking the scenario further, if there is no maize silage available and the farmer needed to replace the lost energy and protein by purchasing straights, it would cost £7,083 for the 100 tonnes required. This is based on a maize silage with 30% DM, 11 MJ/kg DM metabolisable energy and 80g/kg crude protein having a relative feed value of £70.83/tonne fresh, compared to barley at a price of £250/tonne and rapeseed meal at £300/tonne.

Financial return of protecting silage  

There is a good return on investment for protecting your maize silage crop with an inoculant, especially given the costs involved in growing and storing maize. 

Inoculating maize with the Magniva Platinum forage range will give a return on investment of at least two to one if only the additional growing costs are considered, and this return goes up to four to one and higher when considering the replacement costs using either maize silage or straights. 

In short, it takes a very small reduction in waste to pay for the inoculant, which can be visualised as a shallow layer of silage across the clamp. For a 1000-tonne clamp of silage, the cost of treating the crop with a Magniva Platinum forage inoculant, would equate to growing about 43 tonnes, just 4% of the total amount of silage with equates to less than a 10cm strip across the entire face of the clamp.